Friday, September 4, 2009

Catfish Gumbo

It's okra season, and gumbo is a good way to use up this abundant vegetable. One of our neighbors keeps bringing us bags of okra from his garden, which is such a treat! What I learned, growing up in the South (first Texas and later Kentucky) is that any gumbo has to have okra in it; without okra, it's just not gumbo.

This recipe comes from The Little Gumbo Book by Gwen McKee (Quail Ridge Press, 1986), which has 27 different gumbo recipes. I've made this one twice, and it is a very reliable recipe -- meaning the end results are reliably good. The book raves about all its recipes with the same level of glowing endorsement -- i.e., "This is incredibly delicious – try it! Easy to make, incredibly delicious!" In this case, I agree.

2 lb. catfish fillets or nuggets
6 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped bell pepper
2 c. chopped celery
1 lb. chopped okra
1 (28-oz.) can tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp. K’s Cajun Seasoning (or salt, pepper, and red pepper)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Cook cleaned fish in boiling, salted water till it breaks apart with a fork (only takes a few minutes). Remove fish, debone, cut in chunks, and reserve stock.

Melt butter in skillet; add flour and stir till lightly browned. Toss chopped vegetables into roux and heat sill softened, stirring often.

Mix everything together – except fish – in a pot with stock and simmer about an hour.

Add fish and simmer 30-45 minutes. Serve over rice with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve gumbo filé on the side. (Filé is a powder made from ground sassafras leaves, and has a delicate flavor; it also thickens the gumbo.)

Serves 8.


  1. Thanks for transcribing! I used it right out of the book and wanted to give the recipe to one of my facebook pals. ;)

    BTW, for those reading - the original says 3 lb whole catfish *or* 2 lbs fillets.

    (It picked up 4lbs of fillets at Costco. WHat to do with the remaining 3 fillets? Hmm...)